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B.J. Penn-Diego Sanchez officially announced for UFC 107

Lightweights to fill void left by hometown hero ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s withdrawal

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Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Daily News

BJ Penn clocks opponent Kenny Florian during their main event bout Aug. 8, 2009, at the Wachovia Center. Penn went on to win, retaining his championship belt.

The UFC made a handful of official announcements over the last few days, including the much-speculated main event for UFC 107 between B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez.

The pair will fill the void left by hometown hero Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who was originally supposed to take on his “The Ultimate Fighter” coaching counterpart Rashad Evans, but instead chose to shoot “The A-Team” movie.

UFC President Dana White said the explosive lightweights would make Southern fight fans forget that Jackson wouldn’t be in the Octagon.

“I don’t think there’s any question that B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez have finally found their homes at 155 pounds, making the UFC 107 main event a fight between the best Penn and Sanchez we’ve ever seen,” said White of the show, which takes place Dec. 12 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.

“B.J. hasn’t lost in this weight class in years, and Diego has looked unstoppable in his lightweight fights, and when these two meet in the center of the Octagon, it’s going to make our first trip to Memphis one fight fans will never forget.”

Tickets for UFC 107, which also include bouts between former UFC heavyweight champ and Las Vegas native Frank Mir and French striker Cheick Kongo, and Thiago Alves and Paul Thiago, go on sale to the general public on Oct. 24.

Like White has promised in previous media gatherings, ticket prices have been scaled back and adjusted for the economy of the region. For 107 tickets have been set at $350, $250, $150, $100, $75 and $50.

Penn, the UFC’s lightweight champ, who is unbeaten for nearly eight years at 155 pounds, has nine finishes in his last 10 bouts — including a dominant victory over top contender Kenny Florian at UFC 101 in Philadelphia in August says he’s ready for the spirited Sanchez.

“I can’t wait to defend the title,” said the 30-year-old Penn, who sports a 14-5-1 career MMA mark. “I know what kind of competitor Diego Sanchez is and I am training very hard. This will be a good test.”

TUF season one winner Sanchez (23-2 overall record), who is on a four-fight win streak and is 2-0 since moving down to lightweight class, has no doubt he can beat the best of the best.

“I’ve always wanted to face the best,” said Sanchez, who defeated Clay Guida by split decision at the TUF 9 finale in June in Las Vegas.

“I’ve worked so hard for this and now I finally have a shot at the title. I’m training like I’ve never trained before and I expect an all-out war.”

TUF Finale announced

The end-of-the-season fights for the 10th edition of “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” will feature a main event between light heavyweights Matt Hamill and Jon Jones on the Dec. 5 card at the Palms.

The undefeated Jones (9-0 MMA mark) continued his fast rise in the UFC’s 205-pound class when he defeated Jake O'Brien at UFC 100 in July. The win marked Jones’ third straight in the Octagon.

Hamill (7-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is coming off back-to-back wins over Reese Andy and Mark Munoz at UFC 92 and UFC 96, respectively. “The Hammer” was supposed to take on Brandon Vera at UFC 102, but was forced out due to a knee injury he suffered in training.

The co-headliners for the show are lightweights Frankie Edgar (10-1 overall) and fellow New Jersey native Kurt Pellegrino (14-4 overall).

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Oct. 17, but UFC.com newsletter subscribers can purchase tickets beginning Oct. 16, and UFC Fight Club members can buy starting Oct. 15.

UFC going down under?

The Sydney Morning Herald first reported that the promotion might be planning an event for Feb. 21 at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.

Sherdog.com said Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama might headline the event against Wanderlei Silva, although Akiyama said he'd prefer UFC 110, set for Feb. 6 in Las Vegas.

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